tv John Holdren Discusses Science and Technology Policy CSPAN April 22, 2017 6:00am-7:01am EDT
>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. c-span was created as a public --vice i america's table cable television companies. a former director of the office and science and policy in obama administration. he talks about initiatives of science. this is an hour. >> welcome to the american association for the advance of
has economic competitiveness, i'm change, education, space program as well as the coordination. is a member of the national academy of sciences. is a president. please join me in welcoming him. >> is a great pleasure to be back in this room. they were more restrained than today's remarks will be. i want to stress at beginning that we bear the responsibility
remarks.ontent of my i am a free person. i start with something that should not have to be explained but one of the purposes of the science march tomorrow is to make sure that the higher -- the wider public and our policymakers understand why science and technology matter. the essence of the matter is that science and technology matter to virtually every other issue on the national and global agenda. these challenges that we face in all of these the domains cannot be understood or surmounted without very substantial influence from science and technology.
it is not just of the white house. it is the shared responsibility of the executive branch. of course the congress. the overarching congress -- the overarching science and the technology authorities said in the appropriations subcommittees which i'm not going to take the time to mention that a number of them are listed here. science and technology is dispersed very widely across of the federal government both in the legislative branch and in
the executive branch. you get an idea of the range of executive branch science and technology actors in this life ranging from the department of defense which includes darpa and the national security agency as well as of the ddr and e. which includes darpa and the wellnal security agency as as the director of defense, research, and engineering. health and human services includes not only nih but also cdc. and so on down the list. in many -- and many countries have been ministrations that concentrate a lot of this stuff under one industry. we have this dispersed model where the bulk is spread across
the executive branch but a small office of science, technology, and white house tries to oversee it all. that is shown in this picture. the center of science and technology since the second eisenhower term where the office of science and tech elegy, ost was initiated since 1976. it has been ost p. been created by executive order.
president nixon fired his sides of either because he did not like the advice he was getting. when president ford came into office, president ford understood that the institution would be more durable if it was created by statute rather than executive order which each president has to re-issue. president ford got his colleagues in the congress to pass a statute that created ostp. that is why the director has to be senate confirmed because of the office is created by statute. as many as four associate directors are senate confirmed. some who are in the room. the ostp works very closely with other entities in the white
house as well as the departments and agencies across the federal government that i have already mentioned, particularly close with the entities in this semicircle. one of the big responsibilities is to work closely with the office of management and budget in developing the president's budget submitted to congress for the science and technology activities for the government. one of the things that should be regretted by the fact that president trump has not yet appointed a director of ostp is that the budget released last month by the trump white house showed no sign whatsoever of any input from folks who understood science. there was nobody there in the top positions to work with the director in developing that budget. ostp basically has three responsibilities. the first two are policy for science and technology and the science and technology policy. the meaning is that science and technology for policy means the advice of that scientists and
technologists provide to government leaders about how science and technology maybe germane to the policy issues on their plate whether the economic policy, health policy or national security policy, it is desirable for the president and his top advisers to know what the relevant scientific and technological understandings are and that is what science and technology for policy are about. policy for science and technology includes the point i just made about working with the office of management and budget and the department and agencies on the r and d budgets.
also policies on stem education and tech workforce issues, scientific integrity and transparency, the use of science and technology to improve the operation of the government itself, all of those fall under the heading of policy for science and technology. the third function is to serve as the president's emissaries in the science and technology space. representing the president on science and technology issues with all the white house of issues -- the white house officials and foreign government officials who have responsibilities for science and technology policy in their countries. these interactions are two-way streets. emissaries and ambassadors are not only to explain the policies of their boss but they are also to collect inside from this
wider constituency that may be valuable in the exercise of the president's responsibilities in science and technology. as part of those rather broad responsibilities, the ostp director and his or her team provide white house oversight for the national science foundation and for nasa. those are two big science agencies that do not sit in a cabinet department said their connection with the president is up through the director. the ostp director manages the nfc, which includes the national nanotechnology initiative and others to cut costs to departments and agencies. 13 departments and agencies, total budget of $17 billion a year. a budget again in the multiple
leaders of the science and engineering and innovation community. they keep their day jobs but advise of the white house on a part-time basis. the only member who does not keep his or her day job outside government is at the president's science advisor who serves as cochair of pcast. the ostp has the responsibility of implementing the ministerial level bilateral science and technology agreements and supporting the state department in implementation of other bilateral science and technology agreements we have with other countries. what did obama do and begin main of science and technology and also environment? he famously said in his first inaugural address, january 20, 2009, notice the size of the crowd, please. [laughter] dr. holdren: he said we will restore science to its rightful place in my administration. first of all, he appointed the first ever u.s. chief technology officer, u.s. chief information
officer, the first chief data scientist in the history of the united states. he restored the assistant to the president title to the ostp director. that title, assistant to the president, provides a direct access to the president. my unfortunate predecessor, he was not given that title under president george w. bush, therefore did not have that direct access. he managed to do a very credible job despite the lack of that access. he got many important things he needed to get done but you cannot do everything a presidential adviser of science can do if you're not whispering in the president's ear. president obama bestowed that title on his chief technology officer. he restored the full complement of four ostp senate confirmed directors. the previous administration only
had two, omitting the directors for environment and national security and international affairs. with the president's support, we build up the numbers. the president gave us three times as much to do and we had to work half again as hard. the president made clear that he wanted his science and technology officials of appropriate rank to be at the table for policy discussions or insights. that meant i would be at the meetings of the national security council, i would be in the meetings of the national economic council, my deputies would be in the principal level meeting. extremely important. if the scientists and engineers
at the white house are not at the table for those discussions, you cannot expect the people who are at the table who have backgrounds in law, political science and economics even to know what insights from science and technology will be germane to the issues at hand. they will be thinking in a constrained space because of they do not know if the scientists and technologists are at the table. he quickly launched and empowered a new pcast, his first
had three nobel laureate scientists on it, the vice presidents of both the national academy of sciences and the national academy of engineering, both women, by the way. a lot of other extremely impressive and engaged folks, this is a picture of president obama meeting with his pcast in the roosevelt room. too many for the oval office. you see dr. gates. folks in this audience will recognize a couple of other folks at the table.
at the far right is a nobel laureate in chemistry. the president was enormously engaged in his interactions with pcast. he asked pcast to do 39 different studies in the eight years of the obama administration on topics of great substance. he embraced an extraordinary fraction of the recommendations in policy. he plays early priority in his administration on scientific integrity, open data, on stem education and inclusion. inclusion means inclusion for young women and girls and minorities historically underrepresented in stem fields. we are wasting a large fraction of the potential science and technology talent in our population by not providing inspiration opportunities, inspiration and support for women and underrepresented minorities. the loss when you don't do that is a triple whammy. those people lose the opportunity for exciting and productive careers in science and technology, the country
loses the contributions they would make in advancing the ball and you lose of the benefits of diversity in each and every science and technology operation. it is well-established that the more diversity you have in a science and technology team, the more options put on the table, the better discussions you have and the smarter the choices get made. he placed emphasis on clean energy and climate change. emphasis on advancing biomedicine and public health. strengthening international cooperation in science and technology. he instructed me in the first week to rebuild our science and technology cooperation with china, russia, brazil, japan, and south korea. innovation for economic recovery and growth. the president inherited one of the worst recessions and he
recognized the role science and technology could play. for example big investments in nanotechnology and material science to create high-quality and sustainable jobs and industries that take advantage of the technological edge that has long characterized the united states. we renounce nasa to boost of science and advanced technology. i said in 2010 when we were doing this, we were trying to put the science back in rocket science. nasa has been spending the bulk of its budget on big rockets and space shuttles, using 1980's or 1970's technology. those big rockets were so expensive that the budgets were being drained out of space science, space telescopes, robotics missions, aeronautics. we rebalance that after quite a long struggle with the congress. another big focus and an early
priority for the president was exploiting private sector innovation talent to improve the responsiveness of government itself. that was reflected in the quantity and quality of the talent the president brought into government from the science and technology space. growing much of it from the private sector, the civil society sector. the first ever presidential science fellows which the president brought in in large numbers -- presidential innovation fellows, who were very talented people brought in from the private sector and from universities to the problem solvers and innovators across all departments and agencies. in the first branch, we had 700 applications for 18 slots. the call of the people was enormous and their achievement and bring this innovation talent from outside government into government were really extraordinary. the president used of the bully
pulpit and the white house venue to promote science and technology anyway a way no predecessor in memory had done. he talked about science and technology in virtually every address he made. he addressed the national academy of sciences twice. jfk did it once, most other presidents did not do it at all. he gave many major speeches focused explicitly on science and technology. energy and space expiration, biomedicine and so on. posted six white house science fairs. at the white house science fairs, we assemble the winners
of science, robotics, mathematics competitions around the country. we invite them to bring their projects with them and set them up in the east wing. at the first white house science fair, the schedulers had allocated 20 minutes for the president to interact with all the students. the president was down on the floor playing with the robots, was chatting with the kids who developed a uv activated nano enabled skin scare -- skin care there be. -- skincare therapy. the president is all alone. the head of the nih and his
science advisor have all gone out. we are waiting for the president to appear and make his remarks. 20 minutes was scheduled, 40 minutes goes by, an hour and 10 minutes later, the president appears. he could not tear himself away from the students. he had more scientists, astronauts, innovators, nobel prize winners, finalists. he had more innovators then sports teams in the white house and that was a real record. he also confided privately that he enjoyed meeting with the bright young science innovators more than he enjoyed meeting with the sports teams. but he never said that publicly as the president. some examples of some of these
can tell you that they will never be the same in terms of their excitement and interest in science emerging from that event. the white house science fair. honoring outstanding teachers and mentors. onepresident was typically click. which means he comes in and says, hello and congratulations. the president never went to one of those met -- events. he launched an unprecedented number of initiatives around science and technology in
virtually all of them were based on using private-public relationships. those included science and technology. stem education, information technology,advance security, international cooperation. this is just a partial list under those headings that i just gave you the specific initiatives that the president launched. virtually any -- every one of these were funded. we were able to get support from the congress for many of these. innovation for the technology. biomedicine and health. it has always been easier to get congressional support from the nih for a most everything else anduse members of congress their families are afflicted by the same diseases as the rest of us.
nih tend to favor funding searching for cures or better therapies for those diseases. we did not have as much support but manyergy domain important initiatives were launched in that domain. let me talk for a minute about the energy environment nexus. the presidenterm, put $80 billion were clean and efficient energy. some people said -- too bad the president did not get interested in climate change until the second term but that is the wrong narrative. he was interested from the beginning. move theat he could to needle on climate change. we put hundreds of billions of dollars into the budget for the advanced research budget. six new energy innovation hubs. .he first ever fuel economy
a raft of energy efficiency standards in the building and appliance sector. an inter-agency task force to coordinate the government's .ctivities as well as adaptation, the steps you take to reduce the damages. reinvigoration of the u.s. global change resource program. that program of 13 agencies on global change research. the launch of a new assessment of the climate change on the united states. the third national assessment was immensely influential in part because for the first time, the models had become adequate
to give you useful, disaggregated information in a different geographical sectors of the country. and is climate change doing what is it likely to do to forest trees, firming, and energy and so on. the first government calculation and use of the social cost of carbon. and the first national oceans policy and a national oceans council which i cochaired. to implement that policy. this is president obama signing the national oceans policy executive order in july of 2010. second term, unprecedented national and international cooperation on arctic issues.
including indigenous peoples issues. the president created the committee to coordinate the activities related to the arctic. first time that had happened. big focus on the implications for all of the sectors of the rapid climate change going on in the art it. implementation of the national ocean policy. band -- banned offshore drilling. greatly expanded u.s., marine areas. international our oceans conferences initiated by the department of state. progress made in those global ,onferences on illegal fishing maureen protected area and the climate action plan launched and implemented starting in june of
2013. in a speech given outdoors at georgetown university on an incredibly hot day, i wanted to to showut this picture the president wiping his brow. hadclimate action plan three major pillars. preparing the united states for the impacts of climate change and adaptation and leading international effort to address climate change. i will tell you if you look at the now archived obama administration's website about on what needed to be done in the energy and climate space, you will find a virtual description of what the --sident then a bond eight what the president then embodied. a great example of the president paying detailed attention to it his science and technology advisors were telling him.
2025submissions target for announced in beijing standing aside the president from china. the first time those two countries stood together saying we are the world's two biggest economies. jointlyoing to lead together the global fight against climate change. many of us had been saying in meetings with the chinese and our own government for years that unless and until the united states and china stand up together and say those things, that we recognize climate change as a huge challenge and we are committed to working on that. until that happens, we cannot expect the rest of the developed world to follow her the developing world to follow. you need the united states out front for the rest of the developed nations to follow. november,ppened in
2014. in my view the reason the paris conference was so successful. followedhat initiative by india, brazil, mexico, it indonesia climbing on board because of that joint agreement being reached, all of that made the success in paris where nearly 200 countries committed specific targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. that would not have happened if obama and the chinese president had not stood up and made that announcement. this is just some of the numbers on the u.s. energy climate record. i always tell my students that the numbers are not everything, that they are usually something. and it is helpful, from time to time to take a look at the actual numbers. 2000 8-2016. these numbers just became available.
see here, some very significant things. electricity generation from coal down to nearly 40%. electricity generation from natural gas, a much lower in midair of carbon dioxide. up by almost 60%. wind electricity up by fourfold. solar electricity up i more than 40 fold over the course of this administration. in total electricity generation down 1%. that is a tribute to advances in increasing energy efficiency at the point of and use. carbon dioxide from energy, it down 11% between 2000 8-2016 under president obama. have. co2 emissions may we do not know at this point that the downturn in 2016 is a
fluctuation or the beginning of a trend. we will find out over time. there is reason to hope it is a beginning of a trend in the global emissions would have peaked sundar then -- sooner than anyone would've hoped. the internationally agreed goal try to keep that delta t to two degrees c never mind that 1.i ensconced as an aspirational goal. busy that is a little we will post this so people can examine this slide at their abundant leisure or look up the paper. caseshows the reference where it emissions keep going up through the 21st century.
continued ambition is a sort of level trajectory through the middle. and the trajectory that we need to get a 50% chance of staying below two degrees celsius. can see that they are more aggressive in terms of the rejection -- reduction. we have to be focused on what we can do for an encore after 2030 when the paris agreement expires. when you look at it in detail, you see it is very difficult to envision a situation where we could reduce emissions of enough to hold the temperature increase below a degree and a half. the question becomes -- what will president trump do in these domains i have been talking about. some obvious challenges under the new regime. can we keep science in its rightful place in the meeting --
in the meaning it had under president trump? decision-making. public access to federal research. federal support for stem education. we have to ask if we will be able to do that under president trump. advancing u.s. and global science and policy. in the face of threats from the trump administration to monitoring from space. they propose cutting back nasa's budget. threats to monitoring in the atmosphere. to federal climate data. to federal climate assessments.
the trump budget indicating what the trump administration's priorities are has called for a eliminating. obviously, challenges to the authority of the epa to regulate admissions and not just greenhouse gas emissions but to regulate water pollution. and the threat globally, if the u.s. retreats globally from a leadership position on climate
change, i can assure you that china would be only too happy to wear that mantle of leadership exclusively. sustaining support for science and technology under the likely budget cuts will be difficult, particularly to avoid deep cuts for nasa. particularly stem education opportunities at nasa. d.o.a. clean energy and efficiency. national science foundation basic research and social science research are not the favorite topics of the republicans. fda research and support of regulation is supportive -- is supported. the climate science sustainability will have a hard time. international cooperation in science and technology, always an early target for folks that do not believe that
international cooperation is in the interests of the u.s. widely regarded as a one-way street where u.s. competitive advantage is siphoned. that is not the way it really works but that is what ultimately folks think. mentioned already, nih funding is generally less contentious politically. members of congress like what nah -- nih does. if congress honors the overall donald trump priorities, candidate trump said he wanted to boost defense spending. he wants to put a trillion dollars in infrastructure. making no cuts in social security and medicare and reduce the deficit. if you do all of those things, there is no alternative to drastic cuts in all discretionary defense spending other than defense and infrastructure. it must simply be hoped that
congress will not honor that combination of commitments by candidate trump. of climatement contrary and to keep posts. drastic cuts in authority for the epa. .ther cuts zero wing out a number of nasa programs. cutting pollution grants and programs by $250 million. cuts in energy r&d. rollback or re-examination of obama climate executive orders. the clean power plan. the methane strategy. all called into question. social cost of carbon. the preparedness executive orders have heard he been -- have already been pulled back.
transparency and integrity in government. i put a few headlines here from recent stories. keeping the list of white house visitor secret. potential conflicts of interest among appointees. a lack of transparency about how the conflicts are being dealt with. no release on tax returns. president -- candidate trump promised to drain the swamp. says -- the cover swamp he promised to drain is growing again when you look at the appointment he made. this one i really like. i hope you can read this. president trump is saying -- hoover brought you a chicken in every pot and i bring you a chicken in every -- a fox in every ticking too. agency science and
technology budget, what donald trump has proposed for fiscal year 18 versus 16 has most best --most really good data does 100% reduction. one of the things important is that the epa office of r&d goes down by 50%. 31% atrall epa cut is the office of research and development in the epa cut in half if the congress accepts the trump recommendation. i hope they don't. you he is doing desperate can read these headlights faster than i could read them to you. but the picture is pretty clear and pretty discouraging. the obama priorities on clean energy and climate change seem to be out the window.
the epa chief has called publicly for an exit from the paris climate accord. there is an ongoing debate as to whether to stay in or out. has their opinion. there are some opinions to the contrary including rex tillerson . heelys we should stay in. interesting news released the other day, a number of coal companies have popped up saying we should stay in. it is better to have a seat at the table than not even from the standpoint of the coal companies. an interesting indicator. it is sort of like the plastic thermometer in the turkey saying it is done. here is another one. i hope you can read this all. looks like another gas attack on babies. sulfur dioxide, mercury, climate change, acid rate and the -- acid rain and the other voice
from the white house says -- i do not inc. so, it is not on cable tv. he has not yet up landed and ost p director or made clear that he intends to do that. he has not appointed a nasa administrator, a u.s. geological survey direct your, ac/dc direct your. director. and he has not given any other indication of awareness of the role of science in government or the role of government in science. what should the science community do? scientists should keep doing our science while looking for alternatives to federal government funding. it will be difficult to replace
big cuts in government funding. the state budgets are in difficulty. firms do a lot of research and development as it is but getting them to pick up the basic research burden is going to be impossible. p is going to step up. the civil federal expenditures on rnd are about $65 billion. the defense is 70 some billion dollars. big cuts will not be easy to replace with the other sources. we should all keep talking about the results of signs and their implications for society. -- howence that if it's science benefits. to focus more on the
process of science and science indication. not just filling people's heads with facts that getting them to understand how science works. how evidence of accumulates. what the sources of credibility are in science and the imprudence of ignoring science. uncertainty. a lot of people think that when scientists say there is uncertainty, that means we do not know enough to do anything. that uncertainty is a prescription for paralysis. it should not be. uncertainty does not mean that when we know more it will turn out to be better than we feared. uncertainty can go in the other direction. when we know more, it might turn out to be worse than we feared. climate change. the evidence is quite persuasive that the uncertainty is in place -- is in fact, not symmetric. the downside risks are in norm is. most of the things we do not know enough about our like you
to make worse when we know more about them rather than making things better. people need to understand and about the rarity of revolutions. people care about scientific revolutions. about continental drift. einstein's theory of relatively -- relativity. they do not understand the real revolutions and science are extremely rare when major mainstream understandings are completely overturned. regarding continental drift. the continents are not moving is perfectly adequate for getting you from here to london. if you think einstein's laws of relativity overturned newtons laws of mechanics, you should note that if you drive your car into a brick wall at 60 miles proper, newtons laws are quite added you to explain what is
going to happen to you. it is unlikely -- that are understandings will be overturned by some new discovery. scientists andt engineers and supporters should all, no matter what our occupations are primarily, time toies 10% of our activism. i made this same recommendation addressonclusion of my in 2007. i think it is more likely to happen and that is reflected in the in the csm for the science march that will take place tomorrow. if the innovators are coming to understand that they have to become activists and the have to speak up and their voices have to be heard.
scientists are an interest group. they're interested in increasing understanding of our world, ourselves and the universe. science to improve our economy, the health of the public, our environment and our security. they're interested in evidence and the application of evidence to public policy. will marching scientists seem to be just worried about their jobs? the message is not please save our jobs. it's really this. given what science is and does, if the funds are slashes, all of society will be the loser. contrary to some of the arguments made on the other side, most scientists are not in it for the money. if they were interested in their salaries, they would be in another line of work, you all know that. and finally, will marching scientists seem to be politicizing science. this is crazy as an argument. science is already politsized. that means the government's decision of how to fund, assist, and encourage science are made in this country in a political
process. they're made by the executive branch and congress interaction and informed by inputs by interest groups and the public. scientists surely have no less right and no less responsibility than any other group to insure that their voices are heard in this process. thank you very much. [applause] dr. holdren: it looked like i pretty much used up the time, we can take some questions. there are microphones on each aisle. if you want to say question, please come to a microphone. when you ask a question, please note that a question is not more
than two sentences, the second of which ends in a question mark. [laughter] >> thank you very much for your talk. what advice would you give to federal scientists in the federal government who are not necessarily working on popular topics? dr. holdren: in a way, i already gave that advice. all scientists in and out of the government should continue to do their science, continue to talk about their results and the implications of their results. if they're told they should not do that, they should find employment outside of government. do your best to stay in government and do the good work that you have been doing in the government because the government needs it, the society needs it. the world needs it. it's an interesting phenomenon that most new presidential administrations who believe they're going to change the whole government find that's a
lot harder than they thought. it's a lot harder than they thought in part because of the people who are in government, the people working in the cabinet agencies, cabinet departments and agencies understand what needs to be done and they tend to keep doing it. it's important and folks in the government continue to do that now for as long and as effectively as they can. this side. >> thank you for that inspiring talk. i and many other people in academia advise a lot of students and advise a lot of early career faculty members who are working toward tenure. some of them are beginning to question whether they've made the right choice to go into the field they've gone into. lots of people have lots of different advice. i wonder what your advice would be to respond to those students. >> my advice first of all is that an education in science or engineering, or math, or the intersection of those issues with public policy will never be wasted. that is the skills, can be applied in a large variety of
domains. if there is less employment going forward for a while in the federal government there will be more elsewhere. i expect to see to some extent states step up. you know, governor brown of california famously said the trump administration reduces supports for earth satellites, california will put up a few. i think there are going to be opportunities and i think people inspired by technology and science and innovation should keep at it and tithe 10% of their time to working to ensure science and technology continue to be respected and used in government for society's benefit. on this side? >> thank you. how do you counter the often
repeated charge that science in general is fundamentally elitist and that the celebration of excellence in research is a celebration of elitism and privilege? >> first of all, you have to admit that it is elitist in the sense that it respects and honors achievement. the extent to which we should be embarrassed is related to the lack of opportunity that we provide in science and technology and innovation to the groups that historically have been under represented there and we should be working hard to remedy that aspect of the elitism but we should not apologize for a commitment to excellence and performance because it is excellence in performance that advances the aims of society, that makes us a richer, healthier, more secure, more sustainable place, that makes a better life for our children and our grandchildren.
if we do not respect performance and excellence, again, all of society will be the loser. looks like we've exhausted the audience if not the topic. so thank you again very much for being here. i appreciate it. and let me simply say in closing i hope you all spend at least 10% of your time working these issues. [laughter] [applause] >> live coverage of the march for science rally on the national mall and tonight, from the epic center in new york city, the discussion about how the trump presidency compares to past presidential administrations. washingtonon
journal, tim graham of the media research center has a report on health and news media coverage of president trump. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ host: it is saturday, april 22, 2017. are day -- earth day. event scheduled and the nations capital and in the country and around the world to protect the air, water, land, and efforts to stem climate change. the 47th anniversary of the earth day movement brings a new focus, the march for science in washington and similar marches in other cities will bring scientists together with activist and concerned citizens seeking greater evidence-based policies and decision-making from government